Categories > Original > Drama0 Reviews
When we’re little, our toes curl and our fingers clench when we’re happy; our mouths open and silent laughter leaves our lips. But when we’re older, we curl our big toes and clench our fat fi...
Today I walk down the piss infested streets of New York. Horns blare, bright yellow cabs line the streets, newspaper and other congealed gunk lines the edges of gutters and buildings, and I, in my too cheap Wal-Mart suit, blend right into the bland, messy city–the opening gates of America. I feel filled with black.
It’s odd how this place, this ghetto, was thought to have been paved in gold and opportunities awaited everyone on each street corner. The city where it is dangerous to walk at night, to be alone on the subway, to be anyone without a gun.
My feet heavily thump down the wet, smelly steps into the abyss we New Yorkers call the subway, annoyance sounding clear with every step. Every morning, day after day, I take this route, trying to tell myself that my life is not as monotonous as it really is.
Like every day, I insert my card, go through the gate which thousands pass through each day, and quietly take my place on the beige seat in the left corner next to the big poster of the blonde woman with too big teeth. But today some one is sitting in my seat. His clothes are tattered, his face and hair is full of dirt and who knows what else that brown stuff is at the corner of his mouth, his eyes sag, and he reeks of booze and his own urine. Trying not to let this bother me (more than it already has), I take my seat across from him, entranced by his sunken face. What could have a caused a man to have a face like that? There are many possibilities, drugs, some sort of disease from sex, the alcohol that has run through his veins time and time again, but none of those possibilities seem to fit that sunken face. It seems as if he is missing part of his soul. Maybe he was once rich and lost all of his money, maybe his wife left for another man, or maybe he just gave up.
It was then I noticed a hat by he side of his body, a few dollars placed haphazardly within it and a few coins holding the loose dollars in their place, a type of charity that I am not interested in. The man notices my intense gaze at him and his rugged face and looks at me. He parts his lips to reveal a smile with his dark red gums, black lining the insides of his teeth, a deep yellow coating them induced by years of smoking. My father smoked, always bothered me. He had teeth just like this man’s instead of that beautiful ivory white that only graces the celebrities. It was quite the lovely sight, just enough to make my onion bagel feel uncomfortable in my stomach and feel as if it needed to say hello to my mouth and the floor of the train. He reached next to him and grabbed his hat, then shoved it in the air in front of him, begging for what little charity I had to give.
And this was it. This was that final moment where the black inside of me could take no more. It had been festering inside of me long enough and this man was begging for it to placed upon him. It’s his fault anyway.
“Why would I give you my money!?” I exploded. “Does it look like I have some? I bought this suit from Wal-Mart for Christ’s sakes!” By now, I was receiving unwanted attention from the rest of the crowded subway car, but I was beyond caring; the black wanted to escape. “If you’re going to beg, go do it in central park, not in a subway car where people aren’t interested in giving petty charity. We have enough problems on hands, to many to worry about yours!”
The man seemed taken aback. Was that a tear forming in the corner of his eye? He gently nodded and placed the hat next to him again and looked at the poster of the blond woman. In this moment, I felt some what sorry for him. I had just bashed the poor man who only wanted the spare change within my pocket. But he did ask for it. Couldn’t he see that I was in a bad mood. It’s written loud and clear upon my face. When some one looks like that, why beg from them, all you’re going to get is a negative reaction.
I blew the moment off and went into my own world trying to ignore the harsh glares that I was receiving the mix of people upon the train. I felt better.
At last my stop arrived and I was relieved to exit after receiving the tenth insult as I made my walk towards the exit. Work was a relief, dealing with people of my own habits all filled with black, comforted my bruised soul. Why was I letting this man get to me? Never before have I felt sympathy towards a human being that dared to try and take away from me what was rightfully mine. It was pissing me off.
Later that day, just like always, I took the train home, trying to retreat to my seat with the blond woman, but he was there, just sitting with those slumped shoulders and that seemingly drowsy head. Why was he still here? Surely he must have known that I was going to return later in the day to go back to my humble, fly sized apartment. But there he sat, and almost as if he recognized my presence, he raised his head and smiled at me with those disgusting, rotting teeth. I was tempted to sit elsewhere but his smile drew me towards him, almost like a magnet draws iron.
And so, I sat.
I try to ignore him, trying to take notice in the little things on the floor, the half-eaten peanut, the wad of gum precariously placed beneath his seat, the stray strands of hair in the back corner, the dirt in his nails. Why am I looking at him?
“You think that you’s the only one who has problems in this little world, huh?” He said to me, cocking his head slightly in an arrogant manner. Had he waited for me all day?
Taken aback, I continued to try and focus on the little things around me, the torn up rubber turf that lined the walkway, the tiny paint chip that the emergency exit held, the tiny hole in his glove.
“You gonna answer me?” He leaned forward ominously, looking at me strait in the eye. He sure did smell. When was the last time he showered? Speaking of which, I need to take a shower, me deodorant’s worn off and little sweat circles have formed beneath my armpits creating a wonderful perfume. “I said,” he stuck his face into mine and smiled, the foul smell of last week’s beef soup radiating in his breath. “Are you gonna answer me?”
I leaned back in my chair, letting my black hair mesh into the dusty and fingered smeared window. I should’ve sat somewhere else.
The man leaned back, almost mocking my movements, letting his mat of curly brown-grey hair touch the back of the window. He straitened his shoulders like mine and put his hands neatly in his lap. “Is this how all you home livers sit like, like you’s afraid of disapointin’ some one with bad manners. I’ll tell you somethin’, on the streets, no one cares if you sit all proper like. We all hunch, it’s easier to eat that way and people’s feel sorry for you. But people like you, you don’t seem to care about anythin’ but yourself. But you shouldn’t be sittin’ like that. What have you got that other people on this train don’t, besides you’s pride and all?”
I closed my eyes, trying to ignore the man. He was right. What was I so proud of in my little, pathetic excuse for a life. I work for practically minimum wage at my office, I live in a tiny literally one room apartment with a skyrocketing rent, my wife left me when I failed to meet her needs, that or she just decided that the man next door was a better lover than me. I laughed. God I’m pathetic.
“You’re right,” I said, my eyes still closed. “What’s so great about my life. All that’s ever happened to me is one bad thing after the next.” I opened my eyes and smiled at the man. Gently I reached into my pocket and pulled out my wallet, withdrawing a few bills from the pleather holder, and held it out to the man. “I believe I owe you this.”
The man smiled at me and went back to his slouched position before taking the money and placing it in his tattered hat.
“Saw the light didja’?” he asked with a laugh.
I nodded my head. “Yeah, guess you could say that.” My soul felt lighter, no black seemed to be hiding within any nooks in my body. “Guess you could say that,” I extended my hand. “The name’s Chris, what’s yours?”
The man laughed. “ So now you wanna know my name do ya’?” He extended his tattered glove-covered hand graciously and gently grasped my hand. “My name’s Thom.”
I nodded my head and gave a quick shake before letting my hand retreat back to my lap, desperately wishing for antibacterial soap.
“So Chris,” Thom said, putting his hand into his inside coat pocket. “Do you believe in God?”
It had been a long tome since I had been asked that question. Truth be told, I never really had a faith, just had that nagging mother that made me go to church every Sunday and say my prayers like a good little boy. If I had to say that I was once believed in God, then I would that he was dead to me after he let my mother die a slow and painful death from breast cancer.
“No,” I said truthfully, raising my arms and letting my hands relax behind my head. “I don’t think I ever believed in him, and if I did, then I lost faith a long time ago.”
The words struck me as odd. Why would he say ‘good’? Most people ridiculed me for being a heathen.
The man pulled a gun from inside of his grey coat and aimed it at my head.
“No wonder you’re soul is so full of black.”
Today, for the first time in many years, my soul felt light. Too bad it’s over.